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A Helpful Technique For Beginner Meditators

When first meditating, meditate for only one minute at a time. This is important. Within one minute there is little time or space to have a poor, off-putting experience, it is also an amount of time that is easy to accommodate into our lives, so, again, nothing there to put us off meditating.

Continue to meditate for one minute at a time only. No more. Until, you have an enjoyable experience in meditation and subsequently want to do more meditation. This is important. The feeling of wanting and wishing to do more than one minute of meditation is vital to experience. Once that feeling of desire for more is present then extend to two minutes only. Repeat. One minute at a time build your practice, but only ever when the one, two, three, four etc. minutes you have done are not enough and you desire more. Then and only then extend your practice.

This method is very helpful because our practice is always based on a foundation of enjoyment. Meditation is never a chore, it is never something that needs to be done, and we gradually build a substantial practice that at every step has been enjoyable, and, as such, our minds only associate meditation with something enjoyable. This is very helpful.

ShoshinGlowajhayesZendoLord84Jackiepope123RuddyDuck9
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Comments

  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Hmmmm.

    If each nano second of meditative observation is new, is there a meditator who is not a beginner?

    A meditation practice that is always based on a foundation of enjoyment, will either be a pretty short adventure or have little to do with meditation.

    SwaroopTraveller
  • It's a tricky one. With samatha meditation the practice doesn't become "enjoyable" until the mind has basically calmed, and that might take some time.

    ZendoLord84
  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    Expecting an enjoyable experience to happen and sitting in meditation? Is it even a good idea?

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Is it possible for the mind to become calm within a one minute slice of meditation? My mind does run on a bit...

  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @Kerome
    Is there any moment in which to experience anything except this immediate one?

    In soto Zen...
    a mind that is calm, excited, dull or clear, is actually not the meditative point.
    The issue is less about having the mind that we may or may not want, and is more about learning how not to cling to, push away or ignore whatever thoughts, forms, sensations, activities or consciousness, happen to be arising or passing away in this moment.

    ShoshinSwaroop
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Where does this technique (edit original poster's (OP's) technique I mean) come from? Is there a reference to a teacher or sangha or is it a home made idea?

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Just because something is good is small reason to expect it to feel good.

    lobster
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    I have to agree with previous posters that enjoyment is rather beside the point. That said, I have to admit that I sometimes use a similar approach when I am very busy or tired or otherwise wound up tight. This is to commit to sitting for 5 minutes - 1 minute is not enough to settle a churning mind, but 5 minutes is a relatively easy commitment. Next time I look at the timer, I am usually amazed to see that I've been hunkered down for 20 minutes or more. Works like a charm (except for those times when I fall asleep) :o

    RuddyDuck9
  • Keep in mind that this technique is for beginners, for whom many need a good reason to maintain a practice, of which 'enjoyment' is as good as it gets. They key here is to provide motivation for continued practice where, in time, this starting point becomes obsolete.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Considered from the standpoint of the beginning meditator, maybe it would be well to sit for a limited time, as the @mindatrisk suggests, but rather than seeking enjoyment per se, it would be experiencing the indirect enjoyment from having successfully completed a task - meditating for X amount of time.

    If the beginner sets out to meditate solo for 2 hours, it's not going to work - failure and discouragement will be the result. But 10 minutes - that may be a little challenging at first, but is within anyone's ability. Success at something that is a little bit challenging is indeed pleasurable, even if beside the point. Success at something that is too easy is neither rewarding nor pleasurable in any meaningful sense.

    RuddyDuck9
  • GlowGlow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    I think you have an important point, @mindatrisk. The role of pleasure in meditation is much underappreciated. Consider these lines from the Anapanasati Sutta:

    [5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

    Some teacher or other (it may have been Ajahn Chah, but I'm not certain) spoke of meditation as "falling in love with the breath." When you sit and focus on the breath, you focus on what is pleasurable about the breath -- what is calming, rapturous even in the simple experience of the sensations of the breath. The breath can then become a vehicle for calming mental agitation (what is translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu above as "mental fabrication", but I like Rupert Gethin's translation "activity of the mind" better). Approaching mindfulness of breathing with an eye towards what is pleasurable about the experience produces concentration fairly quickly.

    However, I think one minute may be too short a period for most people to become restful in the breath. I worry the strain of trying to find pleasure within a minute might be too stressful and agitating for a beginner, who doesn't even know what to expect yet. Especially at the early stages, it can take a while to learn how to extricate oneself from the activity of the mind and be in the body and moment. I think fifteen minutes is a good starting point for most people: it allows one to settle into the body and breath and experience the beginnings of clarity and concentration.

    lobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2016

    The problem is that one might wait quite a long time before that 1 minute is pleasurable and it would probably be just a random good feeling rather than you having the secret of always feeling good which most is unaccessible unless they have one of those lamps with a genie. So you might wait quite a time until your 1 minute feels good. And then what do you do when you get that good 1? You bump it to 5 minutes the next day and what if the 5 minutes is 30 seconds of feeling good along with differnt mixed feelings in the 4:30. So what do you do go back to 1 minute until it feels good then try 5 minutes again?

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    One moment meditation app for IOS and Android
    http://opcoa.st/0ZcWv
    The moments last a minute. The app is free. I have it. Find it excellent.

    I find that we have to practice from where we are, not where others are or expect us to be.

    The contemporary mind, fuelled by coffee and social media needs time to focus and settle.

    Personally I feel that five minutes split into five one minute practices is possible for even the terminally monkey minded. Here is one such splitting as an example ...

    1. body scan (yoga nidra)
    2. mantra
    3. focus on breath
    4. alert yet relaxed
    5. metta directed to all beings
    BunksGlow
  • @mindatrisk said:

    Continue to meditate for one minute at a time only. No more. Until, you have an enjoyable experience in meditation and subsequently want to do more meditation. This is important. The feeling of wanting and wishing to do more than one minute of meditation is vital to experience. Once that feeling of desire for more is present then extend to two minutes only. Repeat. One minute at a time build your practice, but only ever when the one, two, three, four etc. minutes you have done are not enough and you desire more. Then and only then extend your practice.

    This method is very helpful because our practice is always based on a foundation of enjoyment. Meditation is never a chore, it is never something that needs to be done, and we gradually build a substantial practice that at every step has been enjoyable, and, as such, our minds only associate meditation with something enjoyable. This is very helpful.

    Good point.
    How about just paying attention to just one in breath and one out breath? How Hard is that?

    lobsterGlow
  • @how said:
    Hmmmm.

    If each nano second of meditative observation is new, is there a meditator who is not a beginner?

    A meditation practice that is always based on a foundation of enjoyment, will either be a pretty short adventure or have little to do with meditation.

    We need to think from the perspective of someone who is brand new to meditation, with all the obstacles and difficulties that we know well. One of the biggest (perceived) obstacles is 'finding time'. Well, one minute is easy to find for anyone. Another big obstacle is sitting through a meditation... even 20 minutes can be too long for a newbie. One minute can be sat through by anyone.

    A further obstacle is maintaining our practice in the long term. Let's say that the newbie has managed to sit through a 20 minute meditation every day for one week... if those 20 minutes have been a struggle with little 'pay-off' then at some point soon it is likely that a break will made in the practice, and a return might never be made. This is very normal. We know well that most people never meditate and those that do find it hard to maintain, and for good reasons... it is hard, it is not an enjoyable process for many, it doesn't come naturally to many, and so on. But building a meditation practice one minute at a time, only ever increasing when we want to increase, is easy and natural, and from the beginning our association with meditation is only a positive one.

    This practice is not about meditating to find enjoyment. This practice is simply about enjoying sitting down and doing your meditation. I know that feeling now. I look forward to meditation. I sometimes crave meditation. Sometimes when I hit the seat and take that first breath it is like a world is lifted from me. I now enjoy the process. But for years and years it was a struggle... on many levels. It was a chore, a 'have to', a struggle, a challenge, a battle, and for many, that is too much, and not why they are wanting to meditate in the first place. If we can make meditation easy and enjoyable from the very beginning then many more people will begin and many more will maintain.

  • howhow Veteran

    @mindatrisk

    Nobody disagreed with your one minute of meditation so I'm not sure why you seem to keep responding as if anyone did.

    Your statement of
    "This method is very helpful because our practice is always based on a foundation of enjoyment,"
    however, is simply a fairy tale best left for the Love & light crowd. Opening yourself up to the wake of the inertia of our own ignorance in meditation is often the opposite of enjoyment.

    There are specific practices that can be misconstrued as enjoyment based but they are certainly not taught by credible teachers to folks beginning a meditation practice.

    Folks suffer. Meditation is a facing of that suffering. Calling it enjoyment may work for the meditative evangelicals trying to rope in the newbys but not only does it disrespectfully treat them like rubes, it confuses them with the contradiction it presents when compared to their actual meditative experiences.

    lobsterFosdickRuddyDuck9
  • mindatriskmindatrisk Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @how said:
    @mindatrisk

    Nobody disagreed with your one minute of meditation so I'm not sure why you seem to keep responding as if anyone did.

    Your statement of
    "This method is very helpful because our practice is always based on a foundation of enjoyment,"
    however, is simply a fairy tale best left for the Love & light crowd. Opening yourself up to the wake of the inertia of our own ignorance in meditation is often the opposite of enjoyment.

    There are specific practices that can be misconstrued as enjoyment based but they are certainly not taught by credible teachers to folks beginning a meditation practice.

    Folks suffer. Meditation is a facing of that suffering. Calling it enjoyment may work for the meditative evangelicals trying to rope in the newbys but not only does it disrespectfully treat them like rubes, it confuses them with the contradiction it presents when compared to their actual meditative experiences.

    I've only responded twice! However, to clarify....

    First of all, the technique is simply for beginners as a way to help them begin and maintain a meditation practice. All of what you said is true, but it is unlikely that most beginners will be confronted with the deeper and more potent elements of meditation practice at the start, the challenges they will be facing will be more mundane, and it is those mundane obstacles - boredom, frustration etc. - that I think can be addressed by keeping their practice very short (less time for frustrations etc. to arise and have affect) and only building upon it as and when the feeling of wanting more arises.

    I think we've all experienced the struggle of setting the clock for 20 minutes and struggling to get through it, just as we've all had the experience of sitting for 20 minutes and wishing we could go on longer... it's this wish / desire to go on longer - an indication of our enjoyment of the practice - that I think can be utilised to the benefit of the beginner so as to help them form a strong positive association with practicing meditation. Again, this is about making the process of practicing meditation enjoyable, not meditating for enjoyment.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    I see no reason to sell the "beginner" -- whoever that may be -- short. By which I mean that handing out 'enjoyment' lollipops is unnecessary.

    As I see it, people examine their lives, assess the knowns and unknowns of various potential directions ... and then either jump off the cliff or not. There is no reason not to say ... yes, sometimes it ain't going to be pleasant, but consider all the other paths you've taken because they promised to be pleasant. As Sarah Palin might say, "How's that workin' out for ya?"

    Sometimes yummy. Sometimes ick. It all requires patience and courage and doubt. If you imagine it's going to lift you up to the heavens, you've in for a disappointment. If you think it's going to cast you into hell, you're in for a disappointment. Maybe it's time to give imagination a rest and just try it out. If it works, kool. If it doesn't work, you've still got Donald Trump to kick around.

    howlobster
  • howhow Veteran

    @mindatrisk

    The different ways of potentially teaching Buddhist meditations are as numerous as multiplying Buddhist teachers with there students.

    My partiality towards skillful means as a platform for teaching meditation just makes that number even less quantifiable,

    Thank you for sharing yours.

    lobster
  • mindatriskmindatrisk Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @genkaku said:
    I see no reason to sell the "beginner" -- whoever that may be -- short. By which I mean that handing out 'enjoyment' lollipops is unnecessary.

    As I see it, people examine their lives, assess the knowns and unknowns of various potential directions ... and then either jump off the cliff or not. There is no reason not to say ... yes, sometimes it ain't going to be pleasant, but consider all the other paths you've taken because they promised to be pleasant. As Sarah Palin might say, "How's that workin' out for ya?"

    Sometimes yummy. Sometimes ick. It all requires patience and courage and doubt. If you imagine it's going to lift you up to the heavens, you've in for a disappointment. If you think it's going to cast you into hell, you're in for a disappointment. Maybe it's time to give imagination a rest and just try it out. If it works, kool. If it doesn't work, you've still got Donald Trump to kick around.

    Why do you think the beginner is being sold short? Meditation can lead to enlightenment, but most beginners meditators just want some stress relief. The deeper elements of meditation come down the line and really need only be addressed when experienced. For the beginner - and this is just my view - there need only be addressed and solved what arises, which is likely to be the mundane obstacles such as boredom, frustration, not-understanding the benefits of, and so on. This technique simply aims to navigate around these obstacles by removing certain conditions that can lead to hindrances.

    I think most people could handle sticking out one minute of meditation - even if bored etc. - every day for even a month until that one day arises where that little something clicks and we realise 'oh, there's something in this, this feels good, i'd like this to continue' at which point it is the ideal time to expand a bit, rather than thinking that you need to struggle through 20 minutes each time, for example, only to give in and give up on meditation - as many do - because, for beginners, sitting down and struggling through 20 minutes is hard, and most don't want to and won't want to, which is a shame, because with a bit more skill, anyone can be guided through those early difficult times without being put off meditation completely, which is what this techniques aims to do... You know, get people into meditation (one minute at a time) and help them maintain it (by enjoying the process).

    Fosdicklobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    I think it depends entirely on the individual person as to what would be helpful. My very first experience ever with meditation is basically the opposite of this gradual increase, etc. It was a 7 day intensive silent retreat with something like 8+ hours of meditation a day. It was quite difficult but extraordinarily helpful!

    One thing I learned about meditation advice is the the same advice can be good for one person and bad for another. But of course, I'm sure there are people where this would be good advice.

    @how said:
    Hmmmm.
    If each nano second of meditative observation is new, is there a meditator who is not a beginner?

    Yes, the one who is neither beginner, nor not beginner, nor advanced, nor not advanced! :)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @Kerome said:
    Is it possible for the mind to become calm within a one minute slice of meditation?

    Yes it is possible. I do it with one breath or just 'calming the mind'. However an undisciplined mind is unruly. How much can be achieved in a minute, whether that be learning a skill, fitness training or meditation? I would suggest one minute may be too low a bar, as others mention.

    Unless one has physical or mental health problems, it seems overly ... what is the word ... unrealistic.
    As is pointed out there is no reason or indication that 'pleasure' will result. You might concentrate on something pleasurable (a dead fish in my case) for a minute, so you would learn concentration. However even concentration is not liked by 'monkey mind'.

    I can tell you this: when I started meditation as a serious practice, twenty minutes was considered the minimum. I decided on a practice that took twenty five minutes. It was more about discipline, focus and concentration. If I was involved with another tradition or inclination I might have done mantra, breath based practice, walking meditation or similar ...

    The practice was a five element practice done very differently to this Pureland version
    http://opcoa.st/0ZBVv

    So I would suggest one minute is, not really a serious start. Practically anyone can do better.

    Are you using this technique? For how long? What pleasurable time are you up to?

  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @seeker242
    We are just ethereal collections of energies riding astride a karmic dragon in fear that dissipation results with dismounting.
    Here, anyone who truly does a moment of meditation should be able to laugh at our shared foolishness.

    lobsterShoshinperson
  • @lobster said:

    @Kerome said:
    Is it possible for the mind to become calm within a one minute slice of meditation?

    Yes it is possible. I do it with one breath or just 'calming the mind'. However an undisciplined mind is unruly. How much can be achieved in a minute, whether that be learning a skill, fitness training or meditation? I would suggest one minute may be too low a bar, as others mention.

    Unless one has physical or mental health problems, it seems overly ... what is the word ... unrealistic.
    As is pointed out there is no reason or indication that 'pleasure' will result. You might concentrate on something pleasurable (a dead fish in my case) for a minute, so you would learn concentration. However even concentration is not liked by 'monkey mind'.

    I can tell you this: when I started meditation as a serious practice, twenty minutes was considered the minimum. I decided on a practice that took twenty five minutes. It was more about discipline, focus and concentration. If I was involved with another tradition or inclination I might have done mantra, breath based practice, walking meditation or similar ...

    The practice was a five element practice done very differently to this Pureland version
    http://opcoa.st/0ZBVv

    So I would suggest one minute is, not really a serious start. Practically anyone can do better.

    Are you using this technique? For how long? What pleasurable time are you up to?

    But you can go from one minute to twenty minutes in less than three weeks if it suits. A one minute practice need only be for your very first sit if it transpires not to be enough. This technique is for the 'general' beginner. It takes into account all potential levels of practitioner allowing for and guiding their progression whilst - hopefully - side-stepping the numerous mundane obstacles that put many people off their practice.

    Certainly, if you want to begin with twenty minutes and are ready for whatever struggles arise then go for it. But if meditation intimidates you - as it does many / most at the moment - then a one minute introduction is an ideal start, and expanding that minute only when you want more will help to keep the meditation practice enjoyable.

    Again, to clarify, the purpose of this practice is to make the process of learning to meditate enjoyable, it is not some kind of pleasure seeking meditation. You just do your normal meditation - mindfulness, for example, but rather than attempting to meditate for, say, an hour three times a day irrespective of how you feel or desire the practice, you just base your development on the desire to develop it, i.e. your enjoyment of meditating.

  • What is the preferred mindset... to look forward to your 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. minutes of meditation or to dread your 20, 30, 40 etc. minutes of meditation? Which practice is likely to be maintained in the long-term?

    silver
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:
    What is the preferred mindset... to look forward to your 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. minutes of meditation or to dread your 20, 30, 40 etc. minutes of meditation?

    Somewhere in the Middle Way between extreme motivations.

    Which practice is likely to be maintained in the long-term?

    The one you do.
    Do or do not. There is no try.
    Master Yoda

    Recently I did not want to meditate, extreme sloth, aversion, 'no point' thinking ... that sort of thing. I sat and waited for it to pass.

    Very often I have very pleasant experiences ... but that is no reason to be a wanker all the time ... :3

    ... and now back to meditational hedonism ... ;)

  • @lobster said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    What is the preferred mindset... to look forward to your 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. minutes of meditation or to dread your 20, 30, 40 etc. minutes of meditation?

    Somewhere in the Middle Way between extreme motivations.

    Which practice is likely to be maintained in the long-term?

    The one you do.
    Do or do not. There is no try.
    Master Yoda

    Recently I did not want to meditate, extreme sloth, aversion, 'no point' thinking ... that sort of thing. I sat and waited for it to pass.

    Very often I have very pleasant experiences ... but that is no reason to be a wanker all the time ... :3

    ... and now back to meditational hedonism ... ;)

    I'm not sure that those are the extremes Buddha was talking about!

    lobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @mindatrisk, while I commend your attempt to ease those new to it, into the practice of meditation, you need to accept - as others have tried to point out - that there is no one easy, simple, 'baby-step' way of doing it.
    Certainly quality trumps quantity, but your outlined method is no better or worse than any other, and cannot be recommended as such, as others have tried to indicate....

    I'm by no means a beginner. I've been on/off meditating for many years now, so this method is as 'good' for those who have been practising Buddhism/Meditation for a long time, as it is for those who sit for the first time.
    Jut as any other method is.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    From my daily one minute study sessions, I have different insights on Buddhist extremism ...
    [seem to have gone wrong again :3]

  • @federica said:
    @mindatrisk, while I commend your attempt to ease those new to it, into the practice of meditation, you need to accept - as others have tried to point out - that there is no one easy, simple, 'baby-step' way of doing it.
    Certainly quality trumps quantity, but your outlined method is no better or worse than any other, and cannot be recommended as such, as others have tried to indicate....

    I'm by no means a beginner. I've been on/off meditating for many years now, so this method is as 'good' for those who have been practising Buddhism/Meditation for a long time, as it is for those who sit for the first time.
    Jut as any other method is.

    But I haven't said anywhere that mine is better...? I had the idea for this technique a couple of days ago and I thought i'd discuss it here to clarify and develop my thoughts. But nowhere have I said that this is the only way or the best way... just a way that might be helpful to beginners.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I never said you did. I'm just saying it isn't.

  • @federica said:
    I never said you did. I'm just saying it isn't.

    Indeed, but I think it could be helpful. I think the idea of starting with just one minute of meditation will be attractive to a lot of people, and I think the focus on expanding the practice at the rate of your enjoyment only will help people to maintain a practice. And I think for most true beginners, i.e. those without karmic tendencies towards meditation practice, it is enough to focus on the very basics of meditation, which really does just amount to sitting down and 'doing it', because once you are doing it - once you have built a solid foundation for practice that you are maintaining, then the rest will follow naturally in time. But you need to be sitting first. You need to be there practicing. if you're not then there will be no fruits. So i'm really just interested in how we can get more people beginning a practice and more people maintaining a practice. Then the practice will look after itself.

  • @lobster said:
    From my daily one minute study sessions, I have different insights on Buddhist extremism ...
    [seem to have gone wrong again :3]

    It's no more extreme than training for a marathon by running one mile first, two miles next, three miles next, and so on. A marathon is 26 miles, so is the middle way for a beginner to run 13 miles on their first training run?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Look at how you keep counter-protesting everyone's input. People put forward extremely justified comments of alternatives, or points that would countermand what you propose, and you respond defensively every time...
    I would echo @how's statement....

    @how said:
    @mindatrisk

    Nobody disagreed with your one minute of meditation so I'm not sure why you seem to keep responding as if anyone did.

    >

    And also @Jeffrey's....?

    @Jeffrey said:
    Where does this technique (edit original poster's (OP's) technique I mean) come from? Is there a reference to a teacher or sangha or is it a home made idea?

    I don't think I saw that particular question answered..?

  • @mindatrisk said:> What is the preferred mindset... to look forward to your 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. minutes of meditation or to dread your 20, 30, 40 etc. minutes of meditation? Which practice is likely to be maintained in the long-term?

    I think it depends on the person and the type of meditation. I think a meditation practice is rather like doing regular exercise to get physically fit, a degree of self-discipline is required to make progress and feel the benefit.

    lobster
  • @federica said:
    Look at how you keep counter-protesting everyone's input. People put forward extremely justified comments of alternatives, or points that would countermand what you propose, and you respond defensively every time...
    I would echo @how's statement....

    @how said:
    @mindatrisk

    Nobody disagreed with your one minute of meditation so I'm not sure why you seem to keep responding as if anyone did.

    >

    And also @Jeffrey's....?

    @Jeffrey said:
    Where does this technique (edit original poster's (OP's) technique I mean) come from? Is there a reference to a teacher or sangha or is it a home made idea?

    I don't think I saw that particular question answered..?

    I don't know what to say to this, because whatever I say will be interpreted as me being defensive. In no shape or form have I been at all defensive. As I said before, I had an idea and I shared it here to get feedback so that I could clarify my thoughts, a big part of which is responding to different arguments with counter-arguments. That isn't me being defensive, that is me crafting an idea. It seems that each time I come here you make comments about my conduct that - and I am being 100% honest here - have no basis in reality. If you want to meet me and see what kind of person I am then I am currently staying at the Hare Krishna centre in Watford. We can go for a coffee and we can clear up whatever needs to be cleared up, because - again, honestly - you frequently misinterpret my words here.

    The technique is my own idea. I can't respond to every comment because I am busy at the moment doing organic farming all day, otherwise i'd like to. But, again, to clarify, when I respond to someone with a counter point, or even just a clearer explanation, it is to help me better understand my idea and to clarify my thinking. That is all it is. And not one part of me is being defensive at all. Not even now.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Oh, I used to live near Watford, but I'm quite a bit away from there now, so at the moment it's a bit prohibitive...

    The technique is my own idea.

    And I think that's just fine. It covers the question.

    You have to understand that I'm the poky one round here, because sometimes, it's my job and comes with the territory.

    I'm cool with all of it. ;)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @Glow I liked your whole post but in particular:

    Some teacher or other (it may have been Ajahn Chah, but I'm not certain) spoke of meditation as "falling in love with the breath."

    However [crustacean confession time coming up ...] :3 I could not have started this way. Basically I was not breathing normally. There was no gentle breath, my breathing was so shallow I was effectively holding my breath the whole time.

    So I feel it is important to find what one requires, for example tinnitus meditation

    There are many routes in, so many. I now have a gentle breath I am pleased to report ...

    'falling in love with the breath' - sounds like a plan. Many thanks. :)

    Glowsilver
  • GlowGlow Veteran

    @lobster said:
    @Glow I liked your whole post but in particular:

    Some teacher or other (it may have been Ajahn Chah, but I'm not certain) spoke of meditation as "falling in love with the breath."

    However [crustacean confession time coming up ...] :3 I could not have started this way. Basically I was not breathing normally. There was no gentle breath, my breathing was so shallow I was effectively holding my breath the whole time.

    So I feel it is important to find what one requires, for example tinnitus meditation

    There are many routes in, so many. I now have a gentle breath I am pleased to report ...

    'falling in love with the breath' - sounds like a plan. Many thanks. :)

    I definitely agree. In fact, I had similar troubles starting out: my breath was very shallow, my throat was always habitually constricted and became sore or dry after just breathing in and out in silence, and my body was generally quite tense. Breathing was very much not pleasant. At first, I tried to just grit my teeth and sit through it with grim determination. After all, I'd heard Buddhism was all about dukkha, and here was dukka right here! But when I heard the quote about "falling in love with the breath" (and also just how much the Buddha emphasized the role of pleasure, bliss, and rapture in meditation), I began to think that I maybe should move my practice in a different direction.

    I think it's necessary for many of us in this modern culture to first undo a lot of the damage done to our bodies by living in a very head-based, sedentary society. A lot of the troubles people have with sitting practice, IME, stem from a lifetime of misusing or neglecting their bodies. For myself, I actually usually don't do sitting practice until after I have done either some yoga or a workout of some kind. I find this roots my awareness back into the body, but also allows for deeper, more diaphragmatic breathing. Work requires me to sit for long hours. Jumping right back into more sitting would probably do more harm than good.

    lobster
  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    I have seen meditation instructions given countless times in many different ways.

    Most folks who get meditation instructions...don't stay with the practice in the same way that most folks who ordain, don't stay ordained for life.
    If you don't believe me...
    every ordination is recorded and numbered...
    Ask any school how many they've ordained and compare that number to how many are still active within that school.. Taking into account the natural death rate and the length of time they've been ordaining.....it's a pretty low percentage that stay with it over the long haul.

    Our Sanghas are just that collection of folks who have stayed within a practice as opposed to the greater majority who have visited and just moved on.

    Identity dictates the adversarial pejorative that those that stay, judge those who left,
    with as much bias as
    those who left, judge those who stayed.

    I do not think that the real issue is about the quality of the meditation instructions for new folks..

    The real problem here is being unable to accept that most folks, just don't stay with a meditation practice, regardless of how it is taught....and that is perfectly OK.

    lobster
  • @how said:

    I do not think that the real issue is about the quality of the meditation instructions for new folks..

    The real problem here is being unable to accept that most folks, just don't stay with a meditation practice, regardless of how it is taught....and that is perfectly OK.

    Thanks. These are great points. Now i'm going to be defensive.

    If instructions were not vital, then why would we have teachers? Why would we place so much import on great teachers? Instructions are vital from the very beginning until the very end. As far as I understand. And I think with a little imagination we can imagine the consequences on a newbie from receiving bad instructions versus the consequences on a newbie of receiving good instructions.

    Furthermore, I'm not sure how the 'real problem' could be that others don't accept that most don't stick with a meditation practice. How and when has that been a problem? What kind of problems has that caused anyone? I'm fairly certain that most teachers - in all studies - have at some point considered how to make their subject more accessible and easier to engage and stick with. It's not just a sign of passion, but in Buddhism, a sign of compassion. Given we know how beneficial meditation is to our lives, why would we not seek to reduce mundane obstacles impeding an individuals practice?

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @how said:> The real problem here is being unable to accept that most folks, just don't stay with a meditation practice, regardless of how it is taught....and that is perfectly OK.

    I'm not sure about "most", but I have met a lot of lay-Buddhists who haven't managed to maintain a regular and consistent practice, for all sorts of reasons. For some people being involved in a supportive sangha is very helpful, for others having a good relationship with a teacher is important.
    In any case I think we all have to be responsible for our own practice, and find ways of sustaining and developing it. We can get advice and support, but in the end I think it is a personal journey.

    lobsterhowRuddyDuck9
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    As a counter point perhaps:

    My advice is very simple. Don't go too much with your feelings.
    I'll give you an example, sometimes you really don't want to sit and practice meditation... Just sit! Sit down.
    Cut through the feelings you have that are saying "I want this" or "I don't want this". Cut through all of that blockage.
    Then you become more yourself.
    You become dignified, because 'you' took the lead of your life, not your feelings.
    ~ Phakchok Rinpoche

    TravellerlobsterRuddyDuck9
  • How does one "cut through" feelings?

  • @Jeffrey said:
    As a counter point perhaps:

    My advice is very simple. Don't go too much with your feelings.
    I'll give you an example, sometimes you really don't want to sit and practice meditation... Just sit! Sit down.
    Cut through the feelings you have that are saying "I want this" or "I don't want this". Cut through all of that blockage.
    Then you become more yourself.
    You become dignified, because 'you' took the lead of your life, not your feelings.
    ~ Phakchok Rinpoche

    To me, this is advanced advice. I'm not sure that you could say this to most newbies starting meditation and have it work for them. There's so much here that needs to be understood first for it to be effective. It's great advice... for me, for you, for most here, and maybe for some newbies, but as a general guidance for those beginning their practice, i'm not sure how helpful it would be.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    How does one "cut through" feelings?

    That is a good question.

    For me it is through will power and discipline. Manjushri is my friend. In other words monkey emotions (which in Buddhism are lumped in with 'Mind') are not the boss of me.

    If the mind, circumstances, emotions, hindrances or lack of buttocks gets in the way, I still sit. Buttocks not gone incidentally ...

    Another trick is a choice of yoga or meditation (yes I should do both - I am such a slacker) and the meditation seems preferable.

  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Meditatively, feelings can be related to in the same way that thoughts are.
    When a thought arises, exists and fades, our job is to observe this process without trying to direct or control it.
    The only difference in doing this with thoughts, and doing this with feelings, comes from how we happen to identify with one over the other.

    When a meditator talks about cutting through feelings, I assume they are talking about not actively helping any one particular phenomena or sense gate (in this case feelings) into a position of control over any of the others.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2016

    To me it's easier to not be set on certain feelings than it is to be set and disappointed. I think cut through is a pointing out instruction. You just do it without knowing how.

    And as far as teachers go I think meditation is taught differently in different places. I asked my teacher about dhyannas (which definitely are a case of advanced instruction) and she said for me to work on the meditation that will take me to enlightenment and that the dhyanas weren't important unless they were working to that goal.

    I'll also add that Pema Chodron said in one of her audio tapes that the goal of meditation was not to feel good and that she humorously heard 'shockwaves go out into the hall' when she said that.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @how said:
    When a meditator talks about cutting through feelings, I assume they are talking about not actively helping any one particular phenomena or sense gate (in this case feelings) into a position of control over any of the others.

    Mentally disciplined and emotionally disciplined are very different for me. Personally I feel too head based. I get easily drawn into unskilful emotional and their attendant physical manifestations.
    A practice app such as 'Stop, Breathe & Think' provides me an online resource as a reminder
    http://www.stopbreathethink.org

  • @Jeffrey said:> I'll also add that Pema Chodron said in one of her audio tapes that the goal of meditation was not to feel good and that she humorously heard 'shockwaves go out into the hall' when she said that.

    So what did she say the goal was?

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